Every week, 2000 AD brings you the galaxy’s greatest artwork and 2000 AD Covers Uncovered takes you behind-the-scenes with the headline artists responsible for our top cover art – join bloggers Richard Bruton and Pete Wells as they uncover the greatest covers from 2000 AD!

This week, it’s the return of the all-ages Regened Prog and the return of art droid Chris Wildgoose for 2000 AD Prog 2280 – all the thrill power you’d expect, just with that all-ages twist!

Inside the latest Regened you’ll find a great Cadet Dredd with Red Medicine by James Peaty and Luke Horsman, Hogwarts meets Grange Hill in Lowborn High by David Barnett and Anna Morokova, there’s AI gone oh so wrong in a Future Shock: Smart Home by Honor Vincent and VV Glass, we’re headed back to school with Class Omega-Default IV in The Unteachables by Karl Stock and Xulia Vincente, and the return of Marlon Shakespeare in Chopper: What Goes Up by David Barnett and Nick Roche.

But it’s all wrapped in that great Cadet Dredd cover by Chris Wildgoose… who’s about to tell us all about putting it together…

CHRIS WILDGOOSE: When Matt Smith got in touch to ask if I was interested in doing a Regened cover, he said I could have free reign. They were yet to lock down the main Cadet Dredd story but suggested he could have a showdown with an Alien or a Robot (while going light on the use of guns as this was aimed at younger readers).

Growing up with Dredd, I always felt his best tool—beside his helmet and his Law Giver—was the Law Master! So I was excited to have a go at that. I also grew up reading the ABC Warriors stories and I’m a genuine fan of the first Dredd film, so I picked the robot showdown with a slight Hammerstein look to it. 

Before I started designing, I read over Matt Smith and Neil Googe’s previous Cadet Dredd story, Coming To America [the exclusive Cadet Dredd in Regened Volume 1] to get a feel for how it looked. Neil’s Law Master designs are just awesome, so I wanted to use some of the flavour he’d given the bike, with a bit of my own spin. I know readers can be very keen on Dredd’s continuity, but with this being the Regened issue, I felt I had space to play with the design a little while keeping it close to an existing design. 

And so, I went in with these influences from the get-go. 

I sent over these three designs. The first two would require a big bunch of time to work on it. Loads of detail and fun action. Whereas Option C was a design that could be completed quickly, in case time was short. Unable to let Dredd wield a gun, I had fun planning out what he could do to the robot that would still be quite violent!  

Option A was inspired by Rob Williams and Dylan Teague’s short Dredd story, Meat,[Judge Dredd Megazine 298] which has a gnarly opening on a Mega-City One highway. My actual personal pick would have been option B, as I loved the colours and was in the mood for a dark, neon, muggy street-level piece.  

To be fair, for me, these are on the more finished scale of ‘sketches’ So they are on the tighter side and often, when I know I’m colouring for myself I’ll put a fair bit of time into figuring out the colours in this stage too. It tends to save me a lot of brain ache later on down the line. 

Matt chose option A as the final cover, so next I got stuck in with the pencils… 

I kept the pencils pretty bare bones, as I was inking it myself and doing it all digitally. With my layouts being pretty tight already, most of the hard work came in the inking stage. Here I was mostly making sure Dredd and the bike were drawn correctly.  

Often I’ll render my covers with some shadow layers. I knew I wanted the robot to have a bunch of grooves and dents, so I worked in some damage at this stage (and on that hover bus getting knocked out of the way).  

And here’s the final piece! I kept very close to the colours I’d worked out in the planning stage, with just some tweaks to add motion blur to the road debris.

The final touch was to add a couple of little Easter eggs!

Keeping with the tradition of naming a block after a fellow 2000 AD art droid, I named a block ‘Teague’ after artist Dylan Teague, who has been one of my biggest influences while working in comics. There’s also a ‘Fnord’ block, which is for my eldest brother. (Don’t worry, my brother isn’t actually named Fnord, but I thought he’d prefer his constant internet handle over a ‘Tim’ block. I owe all of my 2000 AD love to Tim, who would let me steal and mistreat his Progs when I was far, far too young. 

And that’s it! Thanks so much to Chris Wildgoose there for sending that one along. And thanks to Tim for letting Chris steal his Progs – always share nice, Earthlets, you’re building the essential next-generation of Squaxx dek Thargo!

You can find 2000 AD Prog 2280 wherever you pick up your weekly dose of Ghafflebette comics, including the 2000 AD web shop from 4 May.